Kitsap County Growth & Home Value Article

Interesting Article:  Seems to repudiate the Growth Management Board’s dictums.

Growth management hasn’t worked, analyst says
By Rachel Pritchett, Kitsap Sun

SILVERDALE — Growth management acts haven’t worked and should be retooled, a leading Northwest economic analyst told local Realtors on Friday.

“If growth management had been a really good idea, we’d see some results by now,” Michael Luis of Michael Luis & Associates told the Kitsap County Association of Realtors meeting at the Silverdale Beach Hotel. “I think it’s time to re-examine growth management.”

Luis’ visit was funded by Washington Realtors.

The acts, many of them around 20 years old now, were intended to concentrate density in urban centers, reducing sprawl and traffic congestion.

But huge public investment in public transportation has brought only minor change in people’s driving habits in the past 20 years, he said.

And homebuyer still prefer single-family detached homes, which translates into suburbs and cul-de-sacs and not increased densities in cities’ cores, he said.

“The public has spoken pretty clearly that they want to be in single-family detached housing,” he said.

Retooling growth management acts should include reducing lot sizes for single-family homes, he said, adding that builders have begun doing that, and buyers have not objected.

Retooling also should include ways to make workers’ commute a half-hour or less. That means putting housing in the same subareas where people work.

Revamps of growth management acts should have incentives to make communities energy efficient. Luis predicted homebuyer will make that much more of a deciding factor than now.

His listeners asked him why Kitsap home sales were still in the dumps even though mortgage rates are low and affordability is up.

A lot has to do with Kitsap’s population, he explained.

Kitsap’s population has tripled since 1960, but it has now leveled off, he said. Kitsap had 251,133 residents in 2010, according to the U.S. Census.

Also, “People stopped moving here,” he said. He’s not sure why.

Those who are moving here tend to be younger and not ready to buy houses. But they tend to be more highly educated, and in time will buy and be able to afford more substantial mortgages. The biggest chunk of new arrivals to Kitsap are from California.

His audience agreed heartily when Luis said homeownership still is a good investment. A person who purchased a home for $100,000 in 2000 would have a $130,179 home today.

That’s better than stuffing it under a mattress, where the $100,000 would be worth $76,923 today, or investing in the stock market, where it would be worth $69,935, he said.

If you purchased your home before 2005 and are in for the long haul, chances are you’re still above water, he said.

As to when the market is going to turn around …

“I don’t know, but it’s going to happen.”

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